Sunday, September 23, 2018


Well...John and Peggy (my bro-in-law and his wife) landed in Munich today for Oktoberfest (it opened yesterday, the 22nd). Jeannie and I were supposed to be with them, but way back in January with my mom's diagnosis of her cancer spreading to her liver (and thereby being taken off Chemo) we decided to nix this plan, as we had no idea how this was going to play out (well, we knew the end-game, it was everything in between that we didn't know).

I certainly have no regrets on cancelling the trip, but I do still feel some twinges of sadness at not being in Germany right now with them. But hey....such is life...we will just go another time. (actually Jeannie and I were planning to head over a week early and spend it in Italy as neither of us have been there, then we would have flown to Munich and met them today). For the next 10 days or so I will be living vicariously thru John as they once again do it up in Munich. Ahhh...what fun we had a few years back when we did go. It was SO MUCH MORE than just drinking beer...I had no idea!

Anyway, below I'll leave a parting shot of one of our favorite pictures from that trip. This is in one of the Grand Halls (can't remember which one) know, drinking beer, eating fantastic food, laughing till you cry, and dancing and partying with 10,000 of your best friends from all over the world (with ZERO fights)! This kind of thing truly restores my faith in show up and see HOW MANY PEOPLE are there every single day, everybody having a great time,  people of all walks of life doing their own thing and having fun! I just pray that this years event goes off without any tragedy.

And so...without further adieu, Oktoberfest! John and Peggy, I'm hoisting a Sam Adams Oktoberfest brew to you safe and have fun! (yes, I know... Sam Adams is NOT an approved Oktoberfest beer).


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Fifty Eight trips around the sun

Yes....when I wake up in the morning I'll have been on this earth FIFTY EIGHT YEARS!

I had to leave a few blank lines there, signifying my complete incomprehension and also denial as to how that has happened so quickly.

I mean (and yes, I'm looking at YOU TJ  Van Garderen!) just seems like yesterday that I was an OH SO YOUNG buck, getting ready to get out of Montana by joining the Navy (cuz, you know...I was TIRED of people telling me what to, my OBVIOUSLY joining the military was the way out of that, right?) I signed up while I was still 17. I still remember the afternoon that I brought home the papers my parents had to sign (as I was under 18) for me to be able to enlist. Complete SHOCK is what I most remember (they had no idea I was talking to the recruiters). I know my mom was devastated...she had totally figured I'd be following in big-brothers footsteps and going off to college, likely in Bozeman (Montana State).

But as the middle child, it's my lot in life to be the black-sheep...and darn it, I was GOOD at it! College...yuk! For ONE thing, what would I possibly study? I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do, other than to NOT be in Montana any more. Yeah...butting heads w/ Mom and Dad...not sure if all teens go thru that but I sure did. My Dad was MUCH more understanding (he had been in the  Air Force back in Korea)...he understood it was time for me to spread my wings and fly away from the protection of the nest. He talked sense into my Mom that night and the next day they signed the papers and I was almost on my way (my date to go away was 9 months later...they called that "delayed entry"). 

I still needed to graduate from High School tho (not a problem, I was honor roll pretty much my whole life.... with the exception of one class...fundamental Drafting (it was during my Senior year too). I VIVIDLY remember THAT day. In drafting you do a requited drawing and when you think it's ready you take it up to the teacher to grade. Any mistakes or problems were points. A perfect drawing was a zero...and your overall grade at the end of each quarter was based on total points...the lower your points the higher your grade. I was working on a VERY low point total until THAT day. I took a drawing up for grading, and he deducted points that I didn't agree with (it was only like 2 points). But hey...I was wronged. so I pleaded my case, he told me to "go sit down". I crossed my arms and stood there wanting a fair appraisal of my disputed deductions. He then said I was going to get a point a minute if I didn't go sit down.

I ended up going from a very high A to a D minus for the quarter that day (at the end of that day it was technically a HUGE "F"), and forever lost any zest for architecture (I was pretty good at it actually). My parents were quite upset (I explained the situation to them, they started making phone calls to the school, and finally after a meeting with the principal and the teacher I got a D minus for the quarter, and a C for the semester (the part that goes on permanent transcripts). I also dropped that class like a hot potato (how on earth would I ever get a fair grading after all THAT?)

Apparently I had a history of such behavior.

Back as a 3rd grader in Sheridan Wyoming, I took a stand one fine winter day for the injustice to my class. You see, our little school (Linden School) sat on a property with a very nice hill behind it. In the winters the hill was covered with snow, and during recess nearly the entire student body (kindergarten thru 6th grade) would be on that hill, making tracks and sliding down, going back up, getting in line for which "track" you wanted to go down, and going down again...until the bell rang and we all ran inside. Well, on this particular day I somehow got pretty wet (soaking)...and my teacher (Miss Wastaski) decided as punishment that the entire class wouldn't be allowed on the hill for a week. I thought this was wholly unfair to punish everybody because I got soaked (gee...playing in snow and getting wet from it...the crime of the century for SURE!) So in my protest I turned my desk around and sat facing backwards and wouldn't do ANYTHING she said. Of course this quickly resulted in my going to the Principals office where I had to explain myself.

Turns out the Principal thought I had a good case as he called Miss Wastaski down to explain HERSELF (she was the text-book Biddy-Old Maid I can safely say...I think I could actually sketch her from memory, with her short bun-red-hair and glasses, which is odd as I can't remember what I did YESTERDAY). Boy was she PISSED at that meeting! She stood up to the Principal defending her punishment of the entire class, and the principal said it was her decision, and that was that.


Day after day I'd sit facing the other way, not doing any classroom-work nor homework. Didn't take long before there was a parent-teacher-principal conference and boy did she look silly trying to explain my low grades as this had been going on over 2 weeks (yes, it went on that long, I don't think the principal realized it at the time). As a continuing part of my punishment nobody in my class was allowed on the hill the entire time I was protesting).

All punishment stopped the day of that conference, and I believe Miss Wastaski had a SERIOUS ass- chewing by the principal AND both my LIVID parents! BOY were they UPSET (and NOT with me for a change!) I seem to recall the rest of my year of 3rd grade being rather frosty (to me) from Miss Wastaski (not the class, I think they respected my defiance even though all of hadn't slid on the hill for over 2 weeks, double the original ban)...but I got thru it.

Once the class punishment ended I ended my protest and got back to being the class-clown that I always was (while still getting good grades). For 4th grade I had Mr. Englebert (how on earth do I remember this stuff??) and he obviously knew about the situation (I believe the entire staff did, how could they NOT?) but I never had any problems with him (that I didn't deserve anyway). I DID write a LOT of lines however, saying "I won't  do" blah blah 500 times or more (note: my technique was I start at the top of the page and write "I" in the start of each line all the way down, then back at the top write "won't" all the way down, and so on and so on for each page until it's filled with sentences). Seem to recall I wrote a LOT of lines throughout my grade-school career. I also recall the lovely chalk-board-nose-in-the-circle-on-the-board punishment more than a few times. If you never had the joy of that one, you get called up (usually for talking or some other disruption of class....ME???) and stand directly in front of the class flat-footed facing the board...the teacher than makes a tiny "chalk circle" about 2" above your nose, where you then have to go tippy-toe and put your nose in the circle while the class progresses untill the bell.

Gosh, you'd think I was some kind of TROUBLE-MAKER or something (GRIN!). Boy do I have a LOT of good stories on THAT subject!! (though in my defense, I have never been to Jail or anything like THAT!) Well....there WAS that crane incident when I was 10 that resulted in the Sheriffs office being called and my Dad cutting a business trip in San Francisco short to GET HOME NOW! I had both my brothers involved in THAT one, even though they were totally innocent...sorry Greg and Dave....well, no, come to think of it, I'm not really very sorry...I was just preparing you for life...get over it! I think you're both better people for it! I MEAN, you NEED experiences like that to more fully appreciate life! (that's my story and I'm sticking with it!)

Gosh, I have REALLY wandered here down the ol' memory-lane. I think I was GOING to talk about how I CANT BELIEVE I'M FIFTY EIGHT YEARS OLD all of a sudden!

Maybe I'm a TEENSY BIT freaked out by it....I mean....(if you don't know what the "I mean" thing is all about, one of the American road-racers by the name of TJ Van Garderen says that about 90 times during a 2 minute interview...drives me CRAZY...pretty much EVERY sentence he speaks starts with that! I've been saying for YEARS they need to send him thru some kind of public speaking class...SERIOUSLY!)

So... back to THE subject (of how OLD I suddenly am) Mom just passed away back in June at 84 years old. That's now only TWENTY SIX YEARS AWAY!  I just CAN'T be that old! I mean (HA!) that means I'm already likely now thru over 2/3rds of my LIFE! I mean...I"m still getting stronger on the bike! How can this be?? (well, I'm not getting stronger just at the moment...I'm still embroiled in my annual "Post Tour de France" slump). Had a rough week on the bike (my rides both Weds and Thurs and then today I felt like I had sludge for blood and no zip on the group road ride I was dropped the last third of the outbound leg, and pretty much immediately on the return leg). It's like I SUCKED or something all week! I sure hope next week is better...I mean...Jeannie got me a new pair of "gravel" bike shoes (road shoes that actually have some tread, unlike traditional road shoes). She gave them to me a day early, and I totally thought I'd get the "Wizzard of Oz" shoe boost in todays ride....but turns out it was more like a shoe-SUCK of all my energy. Seriously...I was pathetic to the point that the group stopped with about 25 miles to go for water and food, and I went on solo, not wanting to stop, and also too embarrassed to be dropped AGAIN. Funny though...once I went solo (ie: setting my OWN pace) I felt pretty good, and I was quite surprised the peleton never caught was a rather large and FAST group of about 20 riders). Maybe THEY were tired too from CRUSHING me all day and were taking it easy. "hey...Matt's not here, let's slow down finally...I'm tired". Yep...that's what they must have been saying (in my mind).

And so. my birthday doesn't really bring joy...just the dread that I'm ANOTHER YEAR closer to hanging up my cycling shoes (especially my Mt bike shoes...I LOVE Mt biking!). I many more years can I SERIOUSLY expect to Mt bike? Ten? Fifteen maybe??? I mean (see, makes you CRAZY, doesn't it?) far (knocking on wood NOW) I've never crashed on a road bike. But I HAVE (and will likely continue to do so, however infrequently) crashed on the Mt bike. At what age does that risk become not worth it? I've never really been hurt (once again, knocking on wood NOW)...the closest I've ever come was March 3 years back when that big red (brown/orange?) bull knocked me down the bank and stomped my wheels. That day WAS a miracle as he would have killed me if it had played out any differently. And I HAVE had more than a few CLOSE CALLS on the road bike...(inattentive drivers) and THOSE are more scary than the bull! So scary that I'm very much afraid to ride solo on the road (which also was pretty odd that I cruised by the stopped group for a 25 mile solo ride home today....VERY unlike me!)

No real idea where to go from here...(in this post I mean). In TWO hours I will be 58. For now I guess I'll go finish a bottle of water and go to bed (I AM tired...seem to have forgotten to take my Geritol today). Actually I seem to have forgot that I had forgotten to take my Geritol today until just 30 seconds ago. That's even worse.

But at least I got a free hamburger from Red Robin Friday afternoon! I always have THAT to look forward to! (and if I were to go to Dennys tomorrow I get a free Gand Slam).

There. I'm now looking on the bright side of life. Yes, "Always look on the bright side of life"! (Thank you Monty Python)

And so another year begins anew. Cheers!

Late update: the picture below is of my good friends (Navy family) daughter Jessica...she was a newborn when I first 'met' her (yep, feeling OLD now!). Don and Janice had just gotten back from Okinowa (where Don was stationed) and I had just came to Norfolk from Peal Harbor. Turns out we were all staying at the Norfolk Naval Station Navy Lodge, unbeknownst to each other. I was walking to the lobby to pay my weekly bill, and Janice was coming FROM the lobby after paying their weekly bill. We passed each other and both spun at the same moment, and hugs and happiness ensued...I was taken to their room, and there in a crib was baby Jess, just a few weeks old...she was a Korean adopted baby. ANYWAY.....Jess and her Strike Team from Indiana had volunteered to go help with the Hurrricane Florence efforts. She's a pretty amazing young woman for sure (and it would appear her Strike team think so too).

 Jessica being held up by her Strike Team (she is team leader) in Spartanburg SC (where they were pre-positioned to help rescue people in need during Florence).